Poetry speaks with the voice of God but sounds very human

CorrespondentAugust 28, 2011 

  • Something Knows the Moment

    Scott Owens

    Main Street Rag, 90 pages

Scott Owens' new poetry collection, "Something Knows the Moment," wastes no time submerging readers in his theme, a candid investigation, sometimes raw and painful, sometimes funny, of faith, of religion, of God himself.

The book's divisions - Acts of Creation, the Angels' Night Off, the Persistence of Faith - effectively channel the poems' direction. From the first poem, "Having His Hands before Him," the speaker hints at questions initially raised by Blake and Donne.

These questions - those asked by humans since creation - elicit no simple answers, some no answers at all. In "The Imperfect Garden," man's fall is just one in a line of plans gone awry - along with the giraffe, the elephant, jellyfish. In his approach to matters of faith with which people have long wrestled, Owens does as he suggests in "Insufficient Knowledge:" "decid[ing] there must be meaning. . . Something more than this. . . decid[ing] to make a god to explain it all. . . to make him like us." Thus in poems that speak from the persona of God, the voice sounds uncannily human.

Owens maintains a balance, however, between shockingly sober and playful through wordplay - Adam naming all living creatures in "Learning the Names"- or through characterization, portraying the heavenly angels as eternal yes-men. Even the voice of Satan as serpent in "Remembering Walking" hits a wry note.

The theme perhaps best expressed in "Looking for Faces in the Night Sky" suggests the human tendency to look at the unfathomable, seeing either what we want to see or what we fear.

Scott Owens is the author of several chapbooks and full-length collections of poetry. He teaches creative writing at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory and publishes The Wild Goose Poetry Review.

Nancy Posey of Hickory teaches English at Caldwell Community College. Her chapbook "Let the Lady Speak" was published this year.

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